vale helen hewett, am

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Helen Hewett, AM, founding member of Women in Super. We were lucky to hear Helen speak at our 25th Anniversary in 2019, where she reminded us of the history of Women in Super.

In 1993, at the 1993 CMSF Conference, where there was only a handful of women delegates. At the dinner, most of them congregated on one table. They were mostly dressed in black or dark colours and they blended into the crowd of dark-suited males. That night, two things were decided: 1. that they would never again wear dark colours to such a function, and 2. that they would have breakfast together the following morning. They arranged for some of the breakfast buffet to be served in another room, and this became the first ‘women’s breakfast’. 

Before they left breakfast, they agreed that the women based in Melbourne would meet at a small French Cafe at Southbank for breakfast the following month. There were four of them: Mavis Robertson, Sherridan Lee, Shirley Clarke and Helen Hewett. This time, they agreed that they would continue to meet on a monthly basis, and each woman in attendance would bring at least one other female colleague to the next breakfast.

They called themselves Women in Super, and the four original women were referred to as the founding members. It was important to the group to encourage young women to be involved, so breakfast was deemed the most appropriate meeting time, because it was cheap. Employers weren’t going to pay, so the organisation was entirely self-funded.

These monthly breakfasts continued at the same French cafe for a year or so, until the group became so large they had to find a bigger space, better equipped for a speaker, and breakfast was replaced by lunch.

Helen served as CEO of Cbus from 1997-2004. She was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2019, an honour she received for significant service to the superannuation industry, to mental health as founder and CEO of SuperFriend, and to women.

Women in Super pays tribute to the life and work of Helen Hewett. Her passion for improving people’s lives, from mental health in the workplace to women’s financial security and representation in the industry, drives us as we continue to work for better outcomes for women.

Everyone at Women in Super extends their deepest condolences to Helen’s family Ken, Peta and Rex.

We won’t forget her.

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